Company Impressed With Rolf’s Business Acumen, High Consonant-To-Vowel Ratio
Rolf Schmidt-Holtz was officially named Chief Creative Officer at Bertelsmann today (1/5), placing him in charge of running the company's Bertelsmann Music Group.

Bertelsmann topper Thomas Middelhoff formally announced the 52-year-old's appointment—just one day after the funeral of BMG's previous CEO-elect, Rudi Gassner, who died Dec. 23 of an apparent heart attack.

Schmidt-Holtz, a former journalist who has worked in Bertelsmann's executive ranks since the mid-1980s, engineered the merger of Bertelsmann TV programming group Ufa with Belgian broadcaster CLT in 1997, creating one of the largest TV and radio broadcasting groups in Europe. He served as CEO of the merged company until 2000.

The executive plans to assemble an executive team to help him run BMG within two to four weeks, sources said.

Gassner, who formerly headed up BMG's international operations, was set to rejoin the company on Jan. 1, but suffered a heart attack at his vacation home in Germany before he could take the helm.

Schmidt-Holtz, not a music man by any stretch, takes over a company in the throes of numerous dealings, including the proposed merger with EMI, the recent ouster of well-known topper Strauss Zelnick, the impending departure of mainstay Michael Dornemann, problems with key executives at Arista, Jive, RCA and J, the company's highly controversial deal with Napster among other notable issues.